More details on the trial and conviction of the man who assaulted Georgetown students—and why he isn’t the “Georgetown Cuddler”
On Friday, Vox reported that a Virginia man who had been found guilty of burglaries, assaults, and sexual assault perpetrated against Georgetown students had been sentenced to 26 years in prison. Below is a timeline of his trial and a full accounting of how much time he will serve for each charge on which he was found guilty.
Vox has also reexamined all the crimes that have been attributed to the criminal or criminals known as the “Georgetown Cuddler,” as both the Washington Post and Saxaspeak have reported that the man, Todd Matthew Thomas, was one of the criminals who is sometimes referred to by that name. And our review of all of those crimes makes Vox wary of declaring that police have caught up with any of the criminals who perpetrated “Cuddler” crimes, if what the Post says about his crimes is true. More on that after the jump, but first, the trial.
According to documents from the D.C. Superior Court, prosecution filed the first charge against Todd M. Thomas—burglary one (meaning burglary in the first degree)—on August 23, 2008, at which time he was held “preventatively” without bond. Three days later, the court filed an order for Thomas’s conditional release with GPS monitoring.
On May 13, 2009, prosecution filed seven additional charges against Thomas:
- Four counts of burglary one
- Three counts of simple assault
- One count of attempted burglary two.
Thomas’ arraignment for these charges was scheduled for two days later, but on May 15, Thomas failed to appear in court. His attorney, Reginald Williamson, was present and reported that Thomas was in Baltimore. Judge Gregory Jackson issued a bench warrant without bond for Thomas’ arrest, which stood for three days until he appeared in court on May 18 to plead not guilty to all charges and Jackson canceled the warrant.
It is unclear if Thomas was then immediately held without bond. The earliest that court documents indicate for sure that Thomas was held in jail is June 17, the date when his trial was scheduled for September 9. On August 13, a motion for his release was heard and denied by the court.
Then on September 2, prosecution, now represented by Channing Phillips, filed five more charges—including some that indicated that Thomas had tried to remove the GPS device he was ordered to wear in August, although it is not clear whether these crimes happened before or after his release with a GPS bracelet. They brought the total number of charges against Thomas to 13. They were:
- One count of offenses committed during release
- One count of tampering with a detection device
- One count of felony assault
- One count of burglary one
- One count of attempted burglary two
The prosecution also updated two previous charges. A burglary one charge was updated to fourth degree sex abuse and a simple assault charge was updated to burglary one. On September 9, Thomas was arraigned and he pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The bulk of the trial took place in October. Jury selection took place in mid-October, and counsel gave closing arguments and jusry began deliberation two weeks later on October 28. It is unclear whether the defendant testified. The jury returned a verdict on November 2, finding Thomas not guilty on two charges—a burglary one charge and a simple assault charge—and guilty of the 11 remaining crimes.
Here is how Thomas racked up time at his sentencing, which took place on Friday, March 12:
- 60 months in prison for one count of burglary one
- 180 days for offenses committed during release, to be served consecutively with his other sentences
- 90 days for tampering with a GPS device, to be served concurrently with his other sentences
- 180 days for felony assault
- Four sentences of 60 months for four counts of burglary one, to be served consecutively with his other sentences
- 10 months for attempted burglary two, to be served consecutively with his other sentences
- 180 days for one count of simple assault
- 20 months for one count of fourth degree sexual abuse
Thomas will also have five years of supervised release after he is done serving time in prison.
The “Georgetown Cuddler”?
View Suspected “Georgetown Cuddler” incidents in a larger map
Despite the similarity some of Thomas’s crimes to those perpetrated by the “Georgetown Cuddler,” it’s unclear that any of the crimes he committed were crimes that students, media, and authorities have attributed to criminal or criminals of that moniker.
Vox mainly finds the claim that authorities have captured and convicted a “Georgetown Cuddler” dubious because all of Thomas’s victims seem to have been male. Here is what the Washington Post‘s Keith Alexander reported about Thomas and the crimes he was sentenced for:
“An Arlington man who was dubbed the ‘Georgetown Cuddler’ was sentenced Friday to more than 26 years in prison for burglary and assaults on five male Georgetown University students …. The victims said they awoke in the middle of the night to find Thomas in their apartments. At times, Thomas was massaging or groping the victim’s shoulders and ankles. Another time, Thomas sexually assaulted one of the victims. The attacks occurred in the 1200 and 1300 blocks of 33rd and 35th streets NW.”
The name “Georgetown Cuddler,” however, has overwhelmingly been invoked for sexual crimes perpetrated against women. Vox has a map, shown above, recording all of the “Georgetown Cuddler”-like crimes reported by the Department of Public Safety, campus media, and local media since the term “Cuddler” came into campus parlance, and on the entire map, there is only one such crime involving a male student. It took place on January 22, 2009 on the 3700 block of T Street, and the male was not assaulted.
It goes without saying that sexual assault is violating and wrong whether it is perpetrated against a man or a woman—and the descriptions Alexander provides of Thomas’ crimes bear that out. Vox‘s point in questioning whether authorities have actually stopped someone who students and media refer to as the “Georgetown Cuddler” is to emphasize that the criminal or criminals who have perpetrated at least fifteen similar assaults against female students and local residents remains at large. And the Washington Post should not encourage us or authorities to feel or act otherwise.
Additional reporting by Chris Heller